Much of human suffering is caused by greed, hatred, fear and ignorance. When we let go of greed, hatred, fear and ignorance, and hold the world with compassion and tenderness, love, generosity and understanding follow, and this brings happiness. This is the way to be happy in this life!
Perhaps you’re afraid of happiness, feeling that somehow you don’t deserve it. Mistakenly you can become loyal to your suffering. Of course you need to treat your own suffering and the suffering of the world honorably. Hold the suffering tenderly—respond with compassionate action, grieve, heal what is possible. But know that suffering is not the end of the story. When you are loyal to your suffering, wrapped up in your own pain and trauma, it can offer a familiar sense of identity, meaning, and purpose. You might not know yourself without your suffering. But as you release your suffering, it can become your gateway to dignity, compassion, and a deeper freedom.
You are bigger than your wounds. Even though we all want to be happy, often we don’t know how. But happiness is your birthright. You are born radiant, a child of the earth, innocent, open, and filled with wonder. As Wordsworth describes, we arrive “trailing clouds of glory.” Then as you grow, you find yourself vulnerable and, inevitably, you experience the full measure of life’s pleasure and pain. Navigating this uncertain terrain is the challenge and blessing of human life. Yes, you will be subject to praise and blame, gain and loss—subject to the vicissitudes of life. No matter what has happened, you can always start again, here and now. Learn to love anyway. Smile tenderly like a Buddha, calm amidst it all. Learn to let the mind quiet and the mystery of life will offer its gifts in return.
The deepest happiness is here for you, a wellspring beyond your fear. It flows from the creative river of life’s mystery. This is why 90-year-old widows tend small flowers in spring gardens and 10-year-olds with little to eat care for stray kittens. It is why painters going blind paint more, and composers going deaf write exquisite symphonies. As you give yourself to life, the river of life flows through you and renews itself. Wisdom sees the possibility of joy. We’re not here just to suffer.